Questions For City Candidates?

Brent Finnegan -- October 2nd, 2010

Election day is one month from today, and we want to know if you have any questions for the candidates running for Harrisonburg City Council or Harrisonburg City School Board.

Council photo from file

In 2008, hburgnews readers came up with some good questions for the council candidates. What issues are most pressing for Harrisonburg today? What would you like to see candidates discuss? Please leave your question in a comment here, or email us.

File photo by Holly Marcus.

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31 Responses to “Questions For City Candidates?”

  1. Jay Bender says:

    I will be the grandfather of child who will be born in Harrisonburg in late January and I am looking for work in Harrisonburg in order to move there. I am concerned with the editorials that I read in the
    Daily News-Record. Their editorials are filled with racism, ethnic hatred and religious bigotry. Are the sentiments of the editors there shared by many in the city? I am concerned about the safety of my granddaughter? I would not want her to be raised in a city filled with bigotry.

  2. republitarian says:

    Could you please cite one instance of bigotry?

    Here’s a question:

    Early on in the campaign, Mr. Coffman suggested a referendum on the golf course. He has since backed off because of the legal complexities of the issue and has become silent. At this point, the only thing that can be done to stop the financial bleeding is to lower maintenance cost and capital outlays, and/or raise fees. Do you think it is, or ever was, the city taxpayers’ responsibility to subsidize people playing golf?

  3. Just to clarify: this is not an open thread where candidates are encouraged to answer. We will compile questions and contact all candidates to respond in a series like we did in 2008.

  4. CityMom says:

    Scott Baxter apparently works for Neilsen Construction. So, I have questions about his conflicts of interest in working for a major school contractor and also serving on the school board, which awards and oversees those contracts. Mr. Baxter said his Neilsen experience would be helpful in overseeing building contracts but he also said he would not vote on issues involving Neilsen contracts.

    Doesn’t that exclude him from voting and discussing on lots of contract issues and defeat the point of his experience?

    Even if Baxter does abstain on certain votes and discussions, he still has inside information that other bidders could say is an unfair advantage. So, shouldn’t Neilsen be restricted from bidding on any contracts while one of their employees is on the school board? Can we trust that Neilsen’s work would be fairly reviewed?

    This all just seems messy and a bid by Neilsen to secure more contracts and good reviews.

    What other work or leadership role has Baxter served in with the PTA’s or any other specific school work?

  5. Dave Briggman says:

    Should City voters and County residents even consider the election of a candidate who exceeded his legal authority and violated Virginia law as a member of the Harrisonburg School Board?

    • Bazrik says:

      One trick pony

      • Brooke says:

        Be fair, he’s got at least two: one should be able to carry guns where ever one pleases trick, and the dead-beat dads shouldn’t face jail time trick.

        • Brooke says:

          (just teasin’ ya, Dave ;-)

          • Bazrik says:

            Actually, I will try to be fair here, Brooke – I was just teasing too. While I may disagree with what Dave says, I want to make clear that this was a light-hearted jab, and I think a great strength of this forum is to keep name-calling out of the discussion. So, Dave, hope you know that was the intent here, and sorry if it was taken otherwise. Thanks.

          • No problemo.

            But to clarify, Brooke (and Bazrik). I testified IN FAVOR of the legislation that both the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County School Boards asked to be created at the General Assembly.

            I have general, consistent rules about government: just be able to do what you’re wanting to do LEGALLY.

            Coffman, and BOTH School Boards lacked legal authority to administratively punish children for conduct that they were legally entitled to engage in on school grounds. The fact that they would punish, without legal authority to do so was obscene on its face.

            Where an elected official has shown a willingness to violate the law on one occasion makes it even more likely they would do so again.

          • In fact, to further clarify. When I testified, I expressed my concern to the Committee that the new law failed to remove a problem…

            If you take a look at this law, which precedes the new law Weatherholtz introduced:


            Go down to subsection (E)(ii), and you’ll see that shotguns are specifically EXEMPTED from a list of the “destructive devices” listed which are cause for expulsion…

            The General Assembly refused to resolve the problem…leaving it very problematic as to whether one can be expelled for having a shotgun on school grounds, let alone in a closed container.

  6. Ross says:

    What’s Harrisonburg’s worst enemy?, and what can be done about it?

  7. cook says:

    Slightly off-thread, but not much, I hope.

    I see three proposed Constitutional amendments on the ballot: I have heard nothing to date about why the Constitution needs to be amended. What are the arguments in favor of and against these proposals?

  8. hhsparent says:

    For Mr. Baxter:

    Campaign literature I recently receives highlights your commitment to “family values”. What do you mean by that?

    For all the candidates: most of you are relatively well known to Harrisonburg voters. How do you distinguish your positions from those of your fellow candidates?

  9. Ross says:

    What’s one thing that’s changed about Harrisonburg that you wish hadn’t?

  10. Frank J Witt says:

    to anyone running, why do YOU feel it so important to bombard the polling places with your yard signs an do you HONESTLY think that an educated voter is swayed in a GOOD way to vote for you because of the signs.

    I personally dislike them en masse. One per candidate should suffice IMHO.

  11. Chris F-B says:

    In many cases JMU students are forced to leave Harrisonburg post-graduation because of a lack of jobs in their field. Because of this, the Harrisonburg community loses much talent that would be beneficial to our community.

    As a member of the city council what steps would you take to further diversify job opportunities in the area?

  12. MF says:


    The signs are not for the educated voter.

  13. Jason Barr says:

    For school board members: why isn’t Harrisonburg instituting a pay-for-play program? It could be set up in such a way to not only allow lower-income families to continue to participate in after-school activities; nor does it need to specifically address only sports.

  14. Josh says:

    What’s unique about your candidacy? How will electing you make Harrisonburg a better place?

    What’s your long-term goal for Harrisonburg? Where do you see Harrisonburg in 10, 20 years and more?

    Are there any immediate things we(you) can do to improve our city?

    How do you plan to engage your constituency once you’re elected?

  15. Ross says:

    A question for any candidate who has served on city council: What is your greatest accomplishment as a city council person?

  16. Harrisonburg has so many great initiatives to preserve, strengthen, and integrate our community and protect our environmental resources. For example, the Mayor’s Sustainability Summit and the Green Expo brought together some leaders in green business and community sustainability on multiple fronts; these and other efforts have generated a wealth of great ideas but, in many cases, little real action and progressive policies.

    What will you do to help make the city of Harrisonburg more of a leader in sustainability measures at the governmental, legislative level? How will you work to ensure the welfare of our children and future generations?

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